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Porsche in 2004

Broadcast date : 23rd May 2004


As the specification of the 2004 model 911 Turbo reveals, all the exotic technology in the 959 is indeed common place in a 21st century Porsche, including a six-speed gearbox and even more power than the 276 kW of the Porsche 959. The current model produces 309 kilowatts and Porsche is confident that there is plenty of potential left in the motor.

Today the latest 911 features an array of electronic safety nets to make its handling idiot- proof. And in Turbo form it has four-wheel drive to deal with the latest production power output of three hundred and nine kilowatts.

Porsche uses technology for practical reasons above else, but that technology must never interfere with the driving experience. Thus it is possible to switch off the anti-skid control and the traction control to indulge in the odd tail slide.

The four-wheel-drive system is also not there for show on the latest 911. In Germany, where there are still long stretches of Autobahn with no speed limits, Porsche customers can and do travel at speeds in excess of 300 kilometers per hour. It sounds crazy, but then the standards of driving in Germany are probably five hundred per cent higher than they are in this country.

At very high speed four-wheel drive has a stablising affect on the car, especially when braking from very high speed. In a four-wheel-drive sports car - not to be confused with an off road four by four with a high centre of gravity - the engine braking effect on all four wheels prevents any tendency to snap into a rear-wheel skid.

Also in the interest of high-speed stability, an automatic aerofoil rises up out of the engine cover at speeds in excess of 120 kilometres per hour. The car looks cleaner, more classic without it, hence the fact that at slow speeds it is flush with the bodywork. Such is Porsche's attention to detail, and attention to the likes and dislikes of its customers.

In developing the water-cooled engine Porsche was at pains not to lose the classic 911 sound. The fan-induced shriek of the early air-cooled motors was distinctive. Today, the water-cooled still has an erie shriek at over 7 000 rpm, but a lot of that noise was acoustically engineered into the new engine.

Porsche in 2004 is one of the most profitable automotive companies in the world and annual production, including its Boxter model and new off-road Cayenne model, is targeted at 65 000 units.

But the mainstay model, the 911, remains one of the most sought-after cars in the world. A unique mix of supercar and everyday commuter vehicle.

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